A Camera Bag Too Good to Resist

You’ve probably heard the term ‘hoarder’. It refers to people who cannot throw out or give away their possessions and end up with a mess of a cluttered house. Well, I have a confession to make. I’m a camera bag hoarder.

I have them all : backpacks, roller bags, shoulder bags, sling bags, waist bags, bags for tripods, bags for light stands, bags for laptops, bags for lenses and even, bags for bags. And not just one of each. I have a garage full and cannot get myself to part with any of them. Sometimes I’ll run across a long lost bag that I forgot I had and in a moment of temporary sanity, think to myself “Why did I ever buy this?” But can I throw it out? Nope. A true sickness.

That said, I found myself a bag I can’t resist! Almost the perfect bag for me because the designers at Tenba did this one right. Every detail of this bag was developed with the input of working videographers and filmmakers across a broad range of styles and pursuits to ensure that this bag could adapt to meet a wide variety of needs.

Photos by Michael Maloney

The Roadie II HDSLR/Video Backpack was designed from the ground up with video gear in mind but don’t let that discourage you if you don’t shoot video. This is still the bag for you. This backpack will fit the latest DSLR systems from Canon (5D Mark III, EOS-1D X) and Nikon (D4, D800), and larger video cameras from RED (Epic, Scarlet), Canon (C300) and Sony, along with a full assortment of accessories including a padded sleeve for a 17″ laptop computer. Video-specific features are found throughout, such as side shotgun mic pockets, a quick to reach top audio compartment and versatile dividers inside that can adjust to fit everything from DSLRs to full-size video cameras.

Your gear is well protected with ample padded dividers

The quick access top is a great place to put those items you need to grab quickly

What I like best about this backpack however is the way you access your gear. No more muddy shoulder straps and back when I’m out shooting landscapes in inclement weather. I set the bag down and zip it open on the harness side, keeping the shoulder straps and waist belt mud free. Who cares if the other side gets muddy, at least that mud stays off my shoulders and back. Another added benefit of this is that you are secure knowing that your expensive gear cannot be unzipped and stolen while wearing the backpack – something to consider in questionable areas.

No more muddy shoulder straps and back thanks to the harness side access to the main compartment

Another plus is that the bag will stand upright on its reinforced waterproof bottom. It can stand this way all day in the rain and your equipment will stay dry with the included custom rain cover.

There is no provision to attach a big tripod however I found a solution. Two deep pockets on the side hold my tripod perfectly fine. My only other wish is that there were tie down bungy cords on the back. I find these are handy to secure extra clothing.

A nice touch : heavy duty YKK zipper pulls are extra long to help when wearing gloves.

The Roadie II Backpack is made of a rugged, foam laminated, weather-proofed ballistic nylon exterior which along with the YKK zippers, rip-stop nylon interior, stress point reinforcements and infinitely-configurable photo/video gear compartments will keep your expensive gear well protected. Not only that, but most importantly it feels like a real backpack, meaning it is designed so that you can wear it all day, fully packed in comfort. The harness system is top notch and I’m able to adjust the well padded waist belt so that my hips carry most of the load helping with comfort and balance while out on the trail.

The Roadie II meets the strictest international carry-on standards. A stationary clip on the right side of the waist belt allows the belt to be compressed against the bag, making it easier to stow the bag in an overhead compartment.

Here are some specs for you :

  • Capacity: 2 DSLRs, 6-8 lenses (up to 300mm f2.8), monopod and shotgun mic, headphones, recorder
  • Weight : 5.5 lbs
  • Exterior Dimensions : 15.5W X 20H X 9.5D in.
  • Interior Dimensions : 11W X 19H X 6.5D in.
  • Laptop Compartment : 11W X 16H X 1D in. Fits most laptops up to 17 inches

The Roadie II HDSLR/Video Backpack is $299.95, and in stock at Camera West.

One Lens fits All : Tamron 24-70mm f2.8

If I had to choose just one lens to shoot with on a full frame 35mm camera body, the decision would be a no brainer for me.

Give me a 24-70mm f2.8.

This lens takes care of easily 90% of all the photos I shoot. Not so great of course for wildlife, or shooting the interiors of small rooms, but you get my point. This lens is my “go to” choice when I’m traveling and shooting light.

At 24mm, you get a moderately wide field of view perfect for most landscapes and the 70mm slight telephoto offers a pleasing focal length for portraits. That and the fast f2.8 maximum aperture throughout the focal length range allows for low light shooting and beautiful bokeh. I rarely need anything more than this versatile lens.

I recently had the chance to try out the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 lens on a Nikon body. I have never shot with a Tamron lens, and this one did not disappoint.

The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD features a constant aperture of f/2.8, fast autofocus and built-in image stabilization (which Tamron markets as “VC” for “Vibration Compensation”). Featuring 17 lens elements in 12 groups, 3 of which are aspherical and 3 with low-dispersion qualities, and a barrel diameter of 3.5 inches and weighing a total of 825 grams, it is by no means a small or lightweight lens, but it balances quite well on heavier pro bodies like the Nikon D800/D4.

Similar to other 24-70mm lenses, the length of the lens extends when the focal length is changed. At the wide end @ 24mm, the lens is at its shortest length. As you zoom in, the length of the lens increases, reaching its longest length at 70mm. The Nikon 24-70mm behaves completely different – its shortest length is at 50mm, while zooming out to 24mm extends the lens quite a bit.

This lens is sharpest at 24mm, softening just a tiny bit at 70mm, but you will probably not even notice this. I had to look hard! And as with many wide angles, there is some vignetting on the Tamron at wide open, however as the focal length increases and the lens is stopped down, the amount of vignetting is reduced substantially. This vignetting by the way is rarely an issue with most post processing software which reads the lens profile and automatically can get rid of the vignetting.

All in all, I was quite impressed with this lens, both in build quality and in performance. It focuses quickly, has a smooth zoom, a locking lens hood and a thoughtful zoom lock to keep the lens compact when not in use. It also features vibration reduction which Nikon and Canon does not in their 24-70 zooms.

Check out some of my photos below, on a recent visit to historic Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge. I kept it light on this trip with just a tripod, one body and one lens – the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD – it was all I needed!

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet $1299. (also available for Canon and Sony mounts)

A weather worn chain leads to the historic Fort Point, built in 1854 to defend San Francisco Bay against hostile warships. Tamron 24mm 1/30@f22 ISO 200

What's left of a weather worn gun turret, exposed to the elements on top of Fort Point. Tamron 70mm 1/250 @f2.8 ISO 200

The intersection of one of Fort Points many brick hallways. Tamron 24mm 1/8 second @ f2.8 ISO 200

Inside what I call the bugle room where an art piece of two bugles, one flattened hang suspended under a harsh light to create a shadow on the floor. Tamron 24mm 13 seconds @f22 ISO 200

A wagon wheel inside the courtyard of Fort Point. Tamron 24mm 1/400 second @f2.8 ISO 200

The courtyard of Fort Point is framed by the Golden Gate Bridge which did not exist when Fort Point was built. Tamron 24mm 1/2000 second @f2.8 ISO 200